Citizens’ groups may not be able to afford ‘adoption’ of open spaces
The proposed open spaces policy is likely to allow citizens’ groups in Mumbai to adopt the open spaces in their neighbourhood on caretaker basis. But will they be able to afford it? Unlikely, as their pockets are not as deep as the outfits or trusts run by politicians which are ready to grab these open spaces. Kunal Purohit reports.mumbai Updated: Apr 06, 2012 02:19 IST
The proposed open spaces policy is likely to allow citizens’ groups in Mumbai to adopt the open spaces in their neighbourhood on caretaker basis. But will they be able to afford it? Unlikely, as their pockets are not as deep as the outfits or trusts run by politicians which are ready to grab these open spaces.
While the civic improvements committee may have invited the wrath of citizens by suggesting that private trusts be allowed to continue holding on to plots under their control, it has also tried to placate activists by trying to make it easier for smaller groups , like citizens’ bodies, to bid for plots as caretakers.
The committee now plans an amendment to slash the minimum bidding amount in half, from the current Rs3,000 per square metre. This is the amount required in order to apply for a plot under the caretaker basis. Activists, however, are hardly impressed, and said that this would only be a token amendment.
In its policy, approved by BMC chief Subodh Kumar in June last year, the BMC had said that allotment of all plots under the caretaker system will be decided by an open bidding process. The civic body had decided that to qualify, bidders will have to quote over the minimum base price of Rs3,000 per square metre that the bidder will have to pay to the civic body, for the upkeep of the 75% of the plot, on which no construction will be allowed.
Calling the base price “too high”, Dr Ram Barot, BJP corporator and chairman, improvements committee, said: “Such a high base price will mean that smaller groups, especially citizens’ bodies and Advanced Locality Managements(ALMs) will never be able to pay that kind of money. Hence, we will propose that this amount be reduced by half.”
Activists, however, are far from impressed. They fear that even if the base price is reduced, big trusts and corporate eyeing large plots of land will easily be able to outbid smaller citizens’ bodies and groups. “Citizens’ groups have very little sources of funds. Such token gestures will not help,” said Rajkumar Sharma, chairperson of Advanced Locality Management And Networking Action Committee.
Nayana Kathpalia, co-convenor, Citispace, an organisation that has been fighting for the city’s open spaces, said: “The proposed amendment to let private trusts continue to manage the city’s plots is symbolic of all that is wrong with even having such a policy in the first place. The BMC can maintain the city’s open spaces without having to ask for any private assistance. We firmly oppose the move to even bring in such a policy in the first place.”